Souzou is a word without a direct English translation. In Japanese, it can mean either imagination or creation. This untranslatable place where new forms take shape is the site of a new art exhibition in London highlighting Japan's outsider art movement. Scroll down for images.
"Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan" features over 300 works from 46 artists; of the group, none attended art school and all are residents of social welfare institutions across Japan. The selected artists use creativity as a means of self-expression or survival.
The show is divided into six sections. "Language" pays attention to the space for communication when traditional language is challenging or impossible, while "Making" explores unorthodox materials and methods developed outside established practices. "Culture" navigates the artist's relationship to and expressions of the cultural output around them, from Japanese films to societal norms.
Of the last three, "Representation" and "Relationships" draw inspiration from the lives of the artists and their surrounding world, from Sakiko Kono's doll collection to Nobuji Higa's surreal interpretation of the sexualized nude. Finally, "Possibility" opens up the ways artists can navigate and rearrange their world, and how this is affected by artistic talent, disability or both.
Simultaneously challenging, heartwarming and visually intoxicating, this exhibition looks to be a welcome diversion from the typical gallery show. We're especially excited for Shinichi Sawada's monstrous sculptures, combining the naive danger of "Where The Wild Things Are" with the tactility of a frosted cake. Just as enticing are Yoko Kubota's colored pencil sketches, which imbue girlish doodles with a mature, surrealist bite.
"Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan" will show from March 28 until June 30 at the Wellcome Collection in London. If you're on the wrong side of the globe, we recommend you check out a peek of the images below:
See a preview for the exhibition in the slideshow below: